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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Jul 5;103(27):10289-93. Epub 2006 Jun 26.

Bone morphogenetic proteins 2, 4, and 9 stimulate murine hepcidin 1 expression independently of Hfe, transferrin receptor 2 (Tfr2), and IL-6.

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Department of Molecular and Experimental Medicine, The Scripps Research Institute, 10550 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


Recently, it has been suggested that hepcidin, a peptide involved in iron homeostasis, is regulated by bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs), apparently by binding to hemojuvelin (Hjv) as a coreceptor and signaling through Smad4. We investigate the role of Hfe, Tfr2 (transferrin receptor 2), and IL-6 in BMP2-, BMP4-, and BMP9-stimulated up-regulation of murine hepcidin, because these molecules, like Hjv, are known to be involved in hepcidin signaling. We show that the BMP signaling pathway acts independently of Hfe, Tfr2, and IL-6: The response to BMP2, BMP4, and BMP9 is similar in isolated hepatocytes of wild-type, Hfe(-/-), IL-6(-/-), and Tfr2(m) mutant mice. The potency of different human BMPs in stimulating hepcidin transcription by murine primary hepatocytes is BMP9 > BMP4 > BMP2. However, in human HepG2 cells, BMP4 and BMP9 are equally potent, whereas BMP2 requires a higher dose to become an effective hepcidin activator. Moreover, all of the tested BMPs are more potent regulators of hepcidin than IL-6 and thus are the most potent known stimulators of hepcidin transcription.

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